Paterson Signs Rockefeller Reform Bill
April 24th, 2009

This morning Gov. David Paterson signed the bill that drastically reforms the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The Assembly passed its own version of the reform bill earlier this year but Democrats quickly decided they would negotiate a different bill and tuck it into the budget package because it was unlikely they could get the bill through the Senate. A release from Paterson’s office follows:

Governor David A. Paterson signed into law sweeping reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The reforms, which were enacted as part of the 2009-10 budget, eliminate the harsh sentences that the Rockefeller Drug Laws mandated by giving judges total authority to divert non-violent addicts to treatment and greatly expanding drug treatment programs. The law strikes a careful and appropriate balance to ensure that non-violent addicted offenders get the treatment they need while predatory kingpins get the punishment they deserve.

Governor Paterson held the ceremonial signing at Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities, Inc., a New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) funded drug treatment facility in Queens surrounded by legislative leaders, advocates and members of the law enforcement community.

This is a proud day for me and so many of my colleagues who have fought for so long to overhaul the drug laws and restore judicial discretion in narcotics cases, said Governor Paterson. For years, thousands of New Yorkers have spoken out against the Rockefeller Drug Laws. At times, the odds seemed insurmountable but we stood together and fought together on behalf of the millions of everyday New Yorkers and their families who were harmed by these laws.

Today, we have succeeded. With a stroke of a pen, the regime of the Rockefeller Drug Laws will end. We are reforming these laws to treat those who suffer from addiction and to punish those who profit from it, added Governor Paterson. But to be successful we must not only overhaul the drug laws, we must also provide an infrastructure to ensure that we successfully rehabilitate those who are addicted with programs like this one at Elmcor which exemplifies our approach to focus on treatment, not punishment.

The laws will give judges the discretion to divert non-violent drug addicted individuals to treatment alternatives that are shown to be far more successful than prison in ending the cycle of addiction. Crucially, it also commits tens of millions of dollars to existing and new treatment programs.

There are three significant pieces of the new laws. First, they create a drug treatment program to be administered by drug court judges. Second, the agreement relieves new offenders from some of the old Rockefeller Drug Laws mandatory sentencing provisions and provides opportunities for additional relief to some offenders who remain incarcerated under the old laws. Third, the agreement ensures that offenders who are not addicted, but who profit from the addictions of others, are appropriately sentenced to State prison.

The Governor believes that law enforcement should target drug kingpins instead of low-level drug users and this law creates a new drug kingpin offense that targets organized drug traffickers who profit from and prey on drug users. The law also creates new crimes to ensure that adults who sell drugs to children are appropriately required to serve time in State prison.

By on April 24, 2009, 11:27 am
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 7 Comments »

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7 Responses to “Paterson Signs Rockefeller Reform Bill”

  1. Terry O'Neill, Esq. Says:
    April 24th, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    It appears that the reform bill did not take the advice of Denise O’Donnell’s commission. I wonder if Paterson and co. read my poem about it in your article.

  2. Don Says:
    April 25th, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Things need to change in this country why do we put 1,000,000 to
    1,200,000 people in jail for none violent drug crimes each year at a
    cost of over 50 Billion dollars per year per million people just to
    houses them. This money goes in to privet company’s that are sub
    company’s of the people in the government. When the C.I.A brings cocaine
    and heroin in to this country. Since we went to Afghanistan and took
    over the country Afghanistan is now putting 80% of the heroin on the
    streets world wide and there number two export is body parts for
    transplants that does not say much for us running the country. The
    C.I.A. got caught putting cocaine on the streets for sale in the 80s to
    fund the Contras war more than once and did not get even a slap on the
    hand for it. Marijuana should be legal for medical use in all states for
    that matter if
    marijuana was treated like alcohol and cigarettes and sin tax the hell
    out of it. There is less kids doing cigarettes and alcohol then smoking
    marijuana in this country because it is controlled better by the
    government and tax payers would save over 50 Billion dollars a
    year alone going in to these privet pockets just by doing this one drug
    would be controlled better and less kids under the age of 21 would be
    able to get marijuana as easy and the money for this would not be going
    down the line and out of the country every one that is getting put in
    jail for this would be out working paying taxes having homes paying
    instead of costing the tax payer 50 Billion dollars per year. Then take
    a bunch of this money and stop cocaine and heroin from getting in to the
    country at all at the borders!. Any one that really looks at the whole
    picture it looks like are government is trying to make money from both
    ends of this bring the drugs in with the C.I.A. and make money putting
    Americans in jail for using it. The average person in this country pays
    his bills one week at a time cutting out food,medicines,vacations,not
    being even able to keep home payments paid you name it. And be using
    this money to help fund new way for every one to get to work ,travel
    heat are home with out fossil fuel. if you think we had a depression in
    the 30s it will not be nothing compared to what is coming The whole
    world needs to worry about global warming more also how about taking
    some of this money and putting in water treatment plants to take ocean
    water to clean water on all are coasts lines with pipe lines to get it
    to all the big city’s and the crop land in the middle of this country
    that most of are food is grown before it is to late. How about stronger
    laws on all the scams people are trying to do to the average person like
    make the commercials and advertisements run on TV really work just as
    they say or be fined. THE PEOPLE NEED HELP

    How many times do you think the people of this country will put up
    with are rights being taken from us ?And how long will this country last
    before people will be stealing or killing just to stay warm or have food
    to feed there family’s. If things go the way they are
    right now you will not even recognize the world that is coming !!! If
    there is not another way other than fossil fuel found soon and brought
    to the people at a cost that will keep this country going so the people
    of this country can work and make money enough to keep
    warm keep food in front of are kids there will BE NO ONE PAYING TAXES OR
    that drove the person to do drugs or sell them what would any one do if it
    came to the point that you had no money to feed your childern or get your
    parents the things they need to even stay alive and the only way you seen
    was to try to sell a drug to keep your child from starving or cloths on
    there back ? “

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